Fibrous Joints: Structure, Function & Types

Instructor: Bianca Thomas

Bianca has 11 years of Anatomy and Physiology University teaching experience and a doctorate degree in Physiology.

In this lesson, you'll explore the features of a fibrous joint and learn how to distinguish between the three types of fibrous joints in the human body. Updated: 02/07/2021

What Is a Fibrous Joint?

A joint or articulation is the area in the human body where two bones make contact. There are two major ways in which joints can be classified. Functional classification is based on the range of motion that can occur at the joint. Structural classification, on the other hand, is based on the anatomy or structure of the tissue that is connecting the two bones. In terms of the structural classification, there are four types of joints:

  • Bony
  • Fibrous
  • Cartilaginous
  • Synovial

A fibrous joint is one in which the two articulating bones are interconnected by dense or fibrous connective tissue. The thickness of the fibrous connective tissue connecting the two bones varies, resulting in three types of fibrous joints in the human body, as indicated in the image below:


CC by OpenStax
Types of fibrous joints


The three types of fibrous joints in the human body are:

  • Sutures
  • Syndesmoses
  • Gomphoses

Sutures

Sutures are joints found only in the skull in which the two skull bones are tightly interconnected by a layer of dense connective tissue. Due to the tight connection between the two bones, no movement is permitted at a suture. We can relate this to what we know of our own bodies and by feeling our own skull. As you move your hands around your skull, you can feel that there is no movement permitted between the various skull bones.

Syndesmoses

Syndesmoses are joints in which the two articulating bones are connected by dense connective tissue in the form of a ligament. As can be seen in Figure 1, a good example of a syndesmosis is the joint between the radius and ulna of the forearm. Another example in the human body is the connection between the tibia and fibula of the lower leg. Due to the connection between them, syndesmoses are only slightly moveable joints that allow for a small range of motion at the connection between the two bones.

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